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  • Writer's pictureLynn Lafleur

No More Gas-Powered Vehicles in Vermont by 2035? Some Thoughts…

News outlets in August, 2023 reported that Gov. Scott was using an electric Ford F-150 Lightning as his primary vehicle. The governor “hoped the move would send the message that the future of automobile transportation is electric…” Vermont is one of 17 states that plan to copy California's ban on new gas-powered cars by 2035. Does this forced move away from gas-powered vehicles make sense? Consider…


How Much Does It Cost to Buy an Electric Vehicle (EV)?

The cheapest, according to CNET, is the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV 1LT starting at $27,495. The cheapest pickup, according to iSeeCars, is the Ford F-150 Lightning, starting at $49,995, with the average starting price for a truck $72,308. Tax credits may lower these prices. However, the prices may not reflect actual dealer prices so EVs may cost more.


Cost To Replace Batteries

The major component in an EV is the battery, which will eventually have to be replaced. How much does that cost? Estimates vary – U.S. News and World Report estimates $7,000 and $30,000.


How much are you willing or able to spend to fight climate change, if you agree that it exists?


Pros and Cons

Owning an EV may be more expensive than a gas-powered car. But on the pro side:


  • They’re reported to be quieter than gas-powered cars.

  • Autoweek says, “It’s true that gas vehicles are usually less expensive and easier to refuel, but there are… benefits to owning an EV that have nothing to do with costs… reduced need for regular maintenance… no oil changes, no mechanical components to break… no exhaust system… and the life of other components such as brakes can be extended.”

  • They’re reported as having better performance than gas-powered cars because of their torque. (But this apparently increases the wear on tires and reduces their life.)

On the con side:

  • There are fewer charging stations than gas stations. Trip planning must factor in the location of charging stations, as opposed to simply expecting to find a gas station. It’s inconvenient.

  • Charging can take hours, significantly increasing trip time. And if several people are waiting for a charger, that can increase the time further.

  • Mileage is low. Autoweek notes that a typical range is 200 to 300 miles. A gas-powered car can easily beat that range.

  • EVs lose range in cold weather. A study by AAA showed that EVs can lose 12% of their range at 20 degrees, and 41% at 20 degrees with the heater on. They also recommend storing the EV in a heated garage, parking it in the sun, and not letting the battery go below 20% to “pre-condition” it to better accept a charge. However…

  • Stories about EV battery fires are common. They may be anecdotal but the visuals are striking. Posts suggest parking EVs outside to minimize fire risk. However…

  • Stories from Seattle and California note that theft of copper from charging stations is becoming common. A stolen charger is a disaster if you need to recharge NOW!, and it’s expensive to replace, $200 to $500 according to Energy.gov. suggestions include charging at home and buying a lockable charging cable. Not the most convenient of solutions…

  • About those battery fires… EV battery fires are reported to be a serious problem because of a chemical reaction that makes a fire hard to put out. To make things worse, such fires are so hot that even after the fire is apparently out, there’s a risk that it could re-ignite. An article in the Wall Street Journal reported that some fire departments just “let it burn.” Sort of like driving a live bomb…

  • EVs cost more to insure because EVs are more expensive, cost more to repair, and have a very expensive battery. The cost seems to depend on the model and your interpretation of the data. For example, a 2023 Consumer Reports article noted that a low-end EV like a Chevrolet Bolt cost $1,911 vs. $1,905 for a Toyota Prius. Great! But the Prius is a hybrid, not a gas-powered car, so the estimates don’t seem relevant. Searching for insurance data will return a huge range of estimates but all agree that EVs cost more to insure than gas-powered cars and are likely to remain so for some time.

  • More broadly, EVs will boost electrical generation needs; solar and wind don’t provide enough reliable energy to handle that increased demand. So there’s the risk of repeating California’s experience of requiring EVs while telling people to reduce electricity use, including EV charging, to avoid overloading the grid.


And there’s more, such as environmental damage from mining the rare earths used in a battery and the cost of disposing of the batteries.  Not to mention the slave labor used to mine the required minerals.


Summary

So do EVs make sense? In cities in warm climates, like southern California, you could argue that they do. But in thinly populated rural areas with a cold climate, like Vermont, not so much. And being pounded into accepting them makes them even less attractive – a loss of freedom and control over yet another part of life. Vermont’s EV mandate should be repealed and EVs made optional.

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